Mysteries of The Chinese Calendar and Chinese New Year

Feb 12, 2024 | by Daniel Giamario |

The recent 20Aquarius41 New Moon at 2:59pm PST on Feb 9 got me thinking about the Chinese calendar. One of the oldest known, it is said to have started 2953 BCE. The Hebrew calendar start date is 3761 BCE and the Mayan Long Count 3114 BCE.

As with the Hebrew calendar, the criterion for New Year and other aspects have changed and evolved over the centuries. A complex issue, which could be a topic of a future article, includes some lesser known topics, for instance the integration of lunar and solar elements, as well as the numbers 5, 10, 12 and 60.


2024 is a Wood Dragon year, the previous such year being 1964.



There is a difference between the start of the Zodiac year and Chinese New Year. I have not been able to discover when the current system was adopted. The Zodiac Year is solar and begins when the Sun is at 15degrees of the tropical sign of Aquarius, which in 2024 was February 4. This is also known as astrological Imbolc, exactly halfway between the December Solstice and March Equinox. In China this is considered the first month of the year, the Tiger month (Yinyue in Chinese).  However, Chinese New Year Day is from the Lunar calendar (much like Hebrew and Islamic approaches) and is the closest New Moon to that 15degree position in tropical Aquarius. The solar date of February 4 is used to determine when the dragon year begins, not the lunar criterion.


Jupiter as Planet of Dharma


According to one of my favorite astronomers, Guy Ottewell, beginning around the 7th century BCE, the cycle of 12 years was based on the movement of Jupiter, the “year-star”, through their 12 zodiacal constellations. Clearly this is no longer followed, as at some point the Chinese adopted the tropical zodiac. This insight from Ottewell actually inspired a portion of the insights of TOTAMS regarding Jupiter. Including the indications of Vedic astrology about Jupiter as Guru, we see Jupiter as the planet of Dharma, which I define as the duty and responsibility of current life intent combined with what the society at large expects of you.

As the Chinese system is entirely solar based now, we can begin to see the possible problem with any kind of useful integration with the Western tropical sign understanding of Jupiter. Of course, neither is the tropical system based on the constellations themselves. It seems that the Chinese Jupiter based system once was. The problem becomes exacerbated when attempting to compare the essences of the Chinese year meanings to the Western Jupiter by sign meanings, the closest thing in Western or Vedic astrology to what the Chinese have in mind, with their attribution of specific traits to an entire year. The movement of Jupiter through a tropical sign (currently Taurus) is entirely out-of-step with the Chinese year attributions. And neither is it any longer connected to the original constellational inspiration of Jupiter as the “Year Star” and “Guru”, that were based on China-centric constellational meanings. Though once united, these are now entirely separate systems.


A Possible Synthesis


A possible synthesis can be suggested though. TOTAMS has a long history of using Jupiter as the planet of Dharma by sign and applies this to the entire year Jupiter is in that sign, with specific meanings and intentions. We have many resources in my books and website resources about each Jupiter placement, natally and collectively. Take a look at our Jupiter series here  and watch out for one of our signature Yearly Highlight Seminars on the ingress of Jupiter into Gemini later this year (to be scheduled soon).

Jupiter’s current Taurean journey is now in its final wave, peaking with the much anticipated conjunction with Uranus on April 21 at 21Taurus49. These two giants have not met in Taurus since 1941-1942. One of our March Equinox seminars will be on these potent April events.


Take Up The Challenge


Overall, I suggest an integration of the Chinese Wood Dragon imagery (not since 1964) with the Jupiter in Taurus imagery, up until Jupiter enters Gemini on May 25, 2024, then followed by that integration of Wood Dragon with Jupiter in Gemini.

I have little or no expertise with the current Chinese astrology meanings, so I am calling on anyone out there to take up the challenge!

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